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Pakistan, India need to prune 'sensitive' list in trading: Envoy

IANS  |  Kolkata 

India and Pakistan need to narrow down the list of their sensitive tradable items and work towards improving non-trade barriers to boost commerce in both countries, Pakistan's High Commissioner in India Abdul Basit said here on Wednesday.

"... (there are) 1,209 tariff lines which India cannot export to Pakistan. Under the sensitive list, which is the India sensitive list, we cannot export to India 614 items.

"So there is also a list which needs to be reduced to 100 -- from the Indian side from over 600 to 100 and from the Pakistan side from 1,209 to 100 as allowed under SAFTA," he told media persons at an event organised by the MCC Chamber of Commerce.

Under the present conditions, Pakistan allows 137 items which can be imported from India through the land route via the Wagah border.

"We need to work on non-tariff barriers as well as how to synchronise our standards, customs procedures, how to create facilitation centres... these are all the things we need to think through," he said.

According to Basit, India-Pakistan trade presently accounts for $2.7 billion and has a potential to scale up to $15-20 billion in the coming 5-10 years.

The envoy said the private sector in both counties was making strides to promote trade.

"(The) private sector is working very hard to come up with tenable, plausible solutions to our (India's and Pakistan's) economic problems including tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers, sensitive list, South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)".

He said the Pakistan-India Joint Business Forum (PIJBF) was working actively towards promoting trade and commerce across the border.

"They (PIJBF) have already established 10 task forces in 10 different fields and they are preparing recommendations and their fifth meeting is to be held in Pakistan hopefully.

"The task forces will submit their recommendations and then when our official engagement is resumed, those recommendations will be taken by both governments," he said.

Basit also expressed optimism about the upcoming South Asia Economic Conclave scheduled in May this year in India where all countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation will participate.

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First Published: Wed, March 18 2015. 17:00 IST